Inside Marketing: The 5 Elements of Digital Member Engagement

five smiling engaged people of diverse ethnic backgrounds
By Todd Robertson

5 minutes

Personalization and effective digital communication are key factors of a satisfying member experience.

The financial services industry has shifted toward digital banking—perhaps slowly at first, then with urgency at the onset of the pandemic. This shift is creating new member engagement opportunities for credit unions, and the quality of a credit union’s digital interactions translates directly to the quality of the end‑user experience. Such interactions impact member satisfaction positively or negatively based on perceived level of empathy, content quality, relevance, ease of use and timeliness—and, ultimately, how well the credit union knows their members’ or prospects’ identities, needs, financial understanding and product interests.

In today’s digital environment, consumer satisfiers—and dissatisfiers—have changed, making the delivery of an exceptional member experience more complex. With over 80% abandonment rates par for the course for banks’ online application processes, the stakes for designing a satisfying experience are higher than ever before.

Historically, credit union member engagement has been executed through in-person discussions, written correspondence and telephone conversations. And while members do still value face‑to‑face service, digital access brings a host of new opportunities both for the member and for the credit union. While traditional interactions were typically reactive to member‑initiated visits or calls, in a digital world, software‑based engagement methods take a more proactive approach with the ability to capture additional touch points across various stages of the member journey.

Elements of Member Engagement

There are five key elements or actions to ensure successful member engagement:

  1. Listen to the member: This presents the greatest challenge to credit unions today, because when a member is interacting digitally, it is often difficult to effectively “listen” and detect needs or timing signals. However, customer experience technology provides the capability to gather valuable, intelligent member feedback.
  2. Respond with relevant content: The information you provide to members must be specific to the stage of their journey and personalized or market‑segment driven to optimize the probability of success. For example, if the member is in the awareness stage of the journey, your message might build trust by highlighting your credit union’s proven track record. During the consideration stage, it is more helpful to provide sufficient product and service information to help guide the member to a decision.
  3. Engage both reactively and proactively: Credit unions need to react to member interaction with appropriate and timely responses. Sensory detection—determining that you have a prospect or member visiting your site and studying where they navigate, how they navigated and the time spent on the page—is especially valuable in the awareness and consideration stages of the member journey. In the fulfillment stage, it counteracts high industry abandonment rates by using the data collected to retarget and re‑engage the member with the right product or service based on member needs.

    Proactive member engagement is event- or time/schedule-driven. Proactive member engagement includes educating, scheduling appointments, referring to personal bankers and financial planning professionals, offering appropriate products and services, following up on feedback and sending nudge reminders and notifications.
  4. Communicate using the most effective method and media: Selecting the optimal communication method and supporting media is key to member engagement success. Communication media options include e‑mail, texts, backlinks, postal service mail, online interactive (e.g., a survey on your website), phone calls and face‑to‑face human contact. These different methods and types of media all have varying costs and effectiveness, making it critical to balance opportunity cost and probable benefit. Sometimes, an automated text or email response to a straightforward question is appropriate. In other situations, such as a high-net-worth member planning for retirement, calling to set up an appointment with a personal financial planning professional may be the best choice.
  5. Remember prior interactions: Successful member engagements are consistent and demonstrate consideration for prior engagements. Enterprise‑wide visibility into contact and engagement history strengthens the ability to continue the conversation and deepens the relationship with the member.

The Member Journey

Let’s look at how these elements actually work in real-world business cases, starting with onboarding a new member.  

A prospective new member’s journey begins with visiting and exploring the credit union’s website (awareness). Through digital sensory capabilities, including analysis of clicks and time spent per webpage, the user’s inclination toward a certain offering is deduced (consideration) and intelligent marketing is triggered. If the application process is abandoned, the prospect is retargeted and re-engaged. Once the prospect becomes a member, having reached the fulfillment or purchase stage, an automatic campaign is activated leading the member to personal and relevant engagement: Well timed thank you emails, online surveys, follow-up contacts regarding ordered checks and debit cards, and access to online banking and financial planning tools are sent with the intention of a growing long term relationship (retention) with the new member.

Other scenarios, such as initiating an engagement plan for a member with a known high Customer Value Index score, might require both digital and human intervention to meet the member’s needs. While this scenario may have begun in similar fashion to the member onboarding case, with the help of self-disclosed financial planning information, the member’s CVI is calculated. Some degree of human interaction is appropriate here to meet the member’s more complex needs. This member has identified saving for retirement as a key goal, and based on that, the campaign is structured to accommodate those needs. This member is provided access to additional educational material, scheduled for an in-person appointment with a personal banker, referred to a personal wealth manager, offered relevant products and services through cross selling channels and nudged to re engage should inactivity be detected.

In each of these cases, personalization and targeted offerings are initiated through customized member engagement touchpoints, resulting in efficient and relevant member service, which is increasingly important in today’s digital environment. The good news is that credit unions already have plenty of knowledge and actionable data about their members, placing them in prime position to preserve and extend these relationships and efficiently engage with them. Winning a member is merely the beginning of the process. The deepest and most profitable relationships span multiple products and result in a longstanding, loyal relationship.

As senior vice president of business development, Todd Robertson works with the largest financial institutions and healthcare providers in the U.S. to demonstrate how ARGO solutions can transform customer experiences and improve operational efficiency.

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